Friday, June 26, 2009

Vegan Saddles

Cosmo writes:

"Hi,I am curious about your saddle. What kind of lepper saddle is it and are they easy to find. I am looking at getting a euro type bike and I know that many of them come with leather saddles. I will want to switch that out if that is what I get. Thanks.

I think it is awesome that you veganized your Velorbis. "

The plastic Lepper saddles are the "Comfotech" line. I would ask around and see if any of your bike shops can order Lepper saddles for you, I'm often surprised how many shops will special order something obscure.  Even if the Lepper brand isn't available from your bike shop, there are many varieties of animal-free saddles available.  Most seats sold in the US are non-leather.

Personally, I find a standard American gel comfort seat to be more comfortable than the Lepper Comfotech - but the Lepper is a more traditional style for a 'euro-bike.'

Hopefully you were spared the pain of reading the "vegan saddles" thread on which is full of idiots writing "but the cow is already dead."  If so, please whatever you do, don't google "vegan saddles."

Hey readers, what are your favorite non-animal saddles?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Sanford Co-op in New Cross, South London

Last week I visited a friend of mine, Luke, who lives in a co-op in New Cross, South London. The Sanford Co-op has been around since the early 1970s and is known for its sustainable energy use and communal atmosphere.

Up until last week everyone has claimed a bike parking space next to a tree, picnic table, or various other objects. There are almost 200 people living in the flats; most have bikes.
An architect Christos Choraitis designed this beautiful and smartly designed bike "shed" to house everyone's scattered bikes.

It is constructed out of re-used railway ties, perhaps referencing the industrial surroundings, and was built using co-op resident labor. (You can read about the planned design of this structure when it was reported in 2006). One can climb the outside and tend to the garden on top. Or, enter through the passcode-protected, swing-hinged door to access a bike.

The grand opening party was in full ride when I visited last Wednesday night and the "shed" makes for a natural gathering spot. We sat on top and enjoyed some sangria while others hung out by the vegetable/dip table set up inside. Luke and some others discovered the inside makes for a good climbing gym as well.

I was amazed by the co-op itself; not to mention Choraitis' design. The area surrounding the living spaces is full of gigantic plants, koi ponds and raised garden beds. The co-op was bought on the cheap due to the high levels of lead in the soil (thus the raised beds).

The houses each have their own flavor and design. The kitchens were recently refurbished and each house competed to design the best slate tile pattern. I was lucky enough to join in on the party that night and crash in one of the rooms. Everyone I met was varied in their interests and nationality. But, they all seemed to appreciate bikes, traveling and enjoying life. If I don't return to NYC it's because I moved in here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Best Bicycle in the World

Cykelmageren (Without Title) 2009

What is the best bicycle manufactured today? Arrow? Cykelmageren?
My suspicion is that it's something that's a danish-japanese hybrid that I don't yet know about.

You all know about A.N.T.'s bikes - but in case anyone hasn't seen them yet - now you too can dream of having one, here you go!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Faux Environmentalists, Dead Goats and a Misused Bicycle

Are you going to cut her throat, burn her and eat her?

This is the worst kind of faux environmentalism and it has to be exposed for what it is.

These people are roasting a dead goat using a bicycle powered spit. It's a horrifying use of a bicycle and contrary to everything we stand for. There is nothing 'green' about slaughtering animals (or any part of the animal food industry) - no matter how 'local' and 'small' it is.

There is no such thing as a 'free range' animal raised for slaughter. It's not 'free' unless it can leave without having its throat slit. A 'grass fed cow' is still terrified as its herded into a cage where its neck is sliced open as it drowns in its own blood, while other cows stand by and watch, waiting their turn to die.

Contrary to what hipsters would have you believe, eating 'local' bacon isn't any better than eating any other bacon - it's still a dead animal, an animal that was imprisoned for its whole life and then murdered. It's still the flesh of an intelligent, social being - a being capable of having relationships, of caring for children, a being that feels pain when its throat is slit and it's hung upside down with a hook in its leg.

A woman goes to jail for killing her puppy and making a belt out of it - but millions of animals are slaughtered to make your shoes, your belts, your burgers - and all of them have just as much right to live as that puppy.

I know, you might disagree. But here's the truth you'll eventually have to face: you're wrong. You're the person who said "as long as the slaves are comfortable and well fed and we let them have Sunday off to go to church, it's not so bad really, and after all, we can't release them, what would they do? how would they take care of themselves?" Those people were called welfarists and they just wanted to make the slaves living conditions better. When slavery ended, they suggested all slaves be sent to work-camps so they could be trained on how to work. The people who wanted to stop slavery were the abolitionists. Get on the right side of history, become an abolitionist today and refuse to support a culture that enslaves millions and murders them for the dinner table - just to satisfy the gluttonous appetite of America while the rest of the world starves.

Really, it's time to wake up.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Questions in the Lot"

We're Going to Barcelona

Barcelona, by MorBCN, Flickr Creative Commons

Well, ehouse is in London at the moment, and we're hoping she'll be posting something about her trip soon. (Please encourage her to do so in the comments...)  Next she's headed to Berlin, so if you have any ideas for her, head to the comments and post away!

Next month I'll be going to Barcelona. We're staying in Gracia and Raval, splitting our time between the two neighborhoods. I've been working on planning the trip and now that the broader details are settled, it's time to start looking into bicycle rentals.

We'll want two city bicycles that are sturdy and well kept, with all the requisite features of a real bicycle (basket or rack, lock, lights, chain guard, etc).  Have an opinion, an experience to share about Barcelona or bicycling life in Spain? Please post. Do you rent bicycles in Barcelona? Why should we choose your business?   Any idea where we can rent a Velorbis in Barcelona?  (OK, yes we're spoiled and hate to give up our favorite bikes). Here is a list of the rental options I've looked at so far.

biciclot: Already in first place because they don't just rent bicycles, they're also a bicycle advocacy organization.

Barceloneta Bikes: 49 euro for one week.

bicing: the city-wide bicycle sharing program is, apparently, for locals only. Really? Wow, what a bad idea.

Budget Bikes Look like nice bicycles, but why do they have that sign on the front? Looks like about 61 euros a week.

Barcelona Biking: only lists prices by the hour..?

Barcelona by Bicycle: 55 euro for one week.  The photos of their silver city bikes look the least offensive of the selection....